It is now the mid-point of ACC conference play and we were interested to see what we would come up if we internally polled the five basketball writers on staff as to who they thought the All-ACC teams and player of the year would be if we picked them today.
The rules: Each of us picked our top 10 players and score them 10-to-1 descending, from best to worst. We also allowed five honorable mention nods, which carry a weighted value of 0.5 points.
Here are the results: (Chuck Workman, Justin Cates, Mike McDaniel, Meredith Beck, and Darrell Jones all contributed)
|The Panelists Picks|
|Assigned pts||CDub||Cates||Money Mike||Meredith Beck||DJ|
|10||Jerian Grant (ND) (co-poty 9.5)||Jerian Grant (ND)||Rakeem Christmas (Cheese)||Marcus Paige (UNC)||Justin Anderson (UVA)|
|9||Rakeem Christmas (Syr) (co-poty 9.5)||Rakeem Christmas (Cheese)||Jerian Grant (ND)||Justin Anderson (UVA)||Jahlil Okafor (Duke)|
|8||Marcus Paige (UNC)||Marcus Paige (UNC)||Justin Anderson (UVA) (7.5)||Jahlil Okafor (Duke)||Jerian Grant (ND)|
|7||Jahlil Okafor (Duke)||Olivier Hanlan (BC)||Jahlil Okafor (Duke) (7.5)||Kennedy Meeks (UNC)||Rakeem Christmas (Cheese)|
|6||Olivier Hanlan (BC)||Jahlil Okafor (Duke)||Marcus Paige (UNC||Tyus Jones (Duke)||Montrezl Harrell (Lou)|
|5||Justin Anderson (UVA)||Justin Anderson (UVA)||Olivier Hanlan (BC)||Jerian Grant (ND)||Marcus Paige (UNC)|
|4||Montrezl Harrell (Lou)||Jaron Blossomgame (Clemson)||Montrezl Harrell (Lou)||Trevor Lacey (NC St)||Terry Rozier (Lou)|
|3||Trevor Lacey (NC St)||Pat Connaughton (ND)||Trevor Lacey (NC St)||Terry Rozier (Lou)||Angel Rodriguez (Miami)|
|2||Jaron Blossomgame (Clemson)||Michael Young (Pitt)||Terry Rozier (Lou)||Rakeem Christmas (Cheese)||Devin Thomas (Wake)|
|1||Malcolm Brogdon (UVA)||Devin Thomas (Wake)||Year Blossomgame (Clemson)||Anthony Gill (UVA)||Zach Auguste (ND)|
|She Mention (0.5)||Terry Rozier (Lou)||Malcolm Brogdon (UVA)||Malcolm Brogdon (UVA)||Malcolm Brogdon (UVA)||Quinn Cook (Duke)|
|She Mention (0.5)||Xavier Rathan-Mayes (FSU)||Montrezl Harrell (Lou)||Xavier Rathan Mayes (FSU)||Quinn Cook (Duke)||Adam Smith (VT)|
|She Mention (0.5)||Devin Thomas (Wake)||Trevor Lacey (NC St)||Devin Thomas (Wake)||Montrezl Harrell (Lou)||London Perrantes (UVA)|
|She Mention (0.5)||Brice Johnson (UNC)||Ralston Turner (NC St)||Michael Young (Pitt)||Tonye Jekiri (Miami)||Tonye Jekiri (Miami)|
|She Mention (0.5)||Angel Rodriguez (Miami)||Angel Rodriguez (Miami)||Kennedy Meeks (UNC)||Olivier Hanlan (BC)||Kennedy Meeks (UNC)|
The only unanimous first team selection was Jahlil Okafor (receiving at least a six or higher on all ballots), though Jerian Grant and Rakeem Christmas were unanimous on four of five ballots.
After the final tally we are left with these results, Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant is our player of the year to this point, keeping the Irish in the top 10, while only starting one player over 6’5″ tall. Leading the Irish to a top five offense nationally by having one of the best assist/turnover ratios, and averaging 17.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 51.3% from the field in conference play. His three point marksmanship is 34.3%, which is 51% true FG %, so he loses nothing from distance.
In order for Grant to hold on to that mantle, he’ll need to stave off Okafor, the Christmas miracle in Syracuse (they just won another game by a possession or less) , and the magic of Marcus Paige who keeps North Carolina in any game. No UVA player can win, no matter how well the team does because the pace is so slow that the numbers won’t pop, and the team is so good, no one player can lay claim to the alpha position, though Justin Anderson has been whatever the Cavaliers have needed this year.
|1st Team||Team||Overall Points|
|Jerian Grant, G||Notre Dame||41.5|
|Jahlil Okafor, C||Duke||38.5|
|Rakeem Christmas, PF||Syracuse||37.5|
|Justin Anderson, SF||Virginia||37|
|Marcus Paige, G||North Carolina||37|
|2nd Team||Team||Overall Points|
|Olivier Hanlan, G||Boston College||18.5|
|Montrezl Harrell, C||Louisville||15|
|Trevor Lacey, G||North Carolina State||10.5|
|Terry Rozier, G||Louisville||9.5|
|Michael Young, F||Pittsburgh||7.5|
|3rd Team||Team||Overall Points|
|Kennedy Meeks, C||North Carolina||7.5|
|Year Blossomgame, F||Clemson||7|
|Tyus Jones, G||Duke||6|
|Devin Thomas, F||Wake Forest||4|
Also receiving votes (points):
Pat Connaughton (ND) 3, Malcolm Brogdon (UVA) 2.5, Xavier Rathan-Mayes (FSU) 1, Anthony Gill (UVA) 1, Zach Auguste (ND) 1, Tonye Jekiri (Miami) 1, Brice Johnson (UNC) .5,
Ralston Turner (NC State), Quin Cook (Duke) .5, Adam Smith (VT) .5, London Perrantes (UVA) .5
If not for Meredith, Tyus Jones doesn’t make a team. But he has been great for a FR. The top heavy ACC sees all kinds of teams stealing votes from one another. Justin Anderson has come in and stolen Malcolm Brogdon’s thunder. Last year, Brogdon was a 1st team all ACC member. But Anderson was shooting near 60% from three on the season until just a week ago. And London Perrantes quietly steady play completely took a back seat to those two front-runners.
On Duke, Quin Cook gets outshone consistently by the play of Okafor, the only player we all agreed was a first team selection. Justise Winslow got nary a vote. And coming into the season I had envisioned Connaughton being more of an equal to Jerian Grant on the Irish, but he has happily receded into a secondary role (albeit an important one). One could imagine Zach Auguste would have gotten more votes if he played more minutes. His production per 40 is among the nation’s best in some areas, and his shot selection is impeccable as his FG % indicates.
Darrell, putting a VT player anywhere on here, even symbolically was almost as ballsy as the player himself. Adam Smith is a worthy honorable mention, as his shooting has gotten the Hokies what they’ve gotten. One shudders to think where they’d be without him.
And at least a couple of us agree that Montrezl Harrell is being wasted offensively by roaming the arc on offense instead of the paint where he belongs. Too much outside-in going on in Louisville, who could tweak things and be just a little more disciplined, just a little better. Which is tough to say when you have a 21-3 team with losses to #1 Kentucky, #4 Duke, and #12 UNC (before last night).
But I am not surprised at all by our first team, and I don’t think many readers can take too much issue with our starting five. Its our second and third teams I’m worried about.
Jerian Grant has really impressed me this season. He’s managed to step up his game from a year ago and lead a surprising Notre Dame squad to an impressive record and high ranking.
Grant has scored 17.8 points per game over the last two seasons since Notre Dame joined the conference. He’s put up over 1,500 career points and has himself positioned to be a first round draft pick in the NBA — though he appears to be somewhat underrated by a number of mock draft sites. Notre Dame has plenty of talent but he lifts the Irish from being a good team to a very good team.
I agree with Chuck that picking any Hokie even as an honorable mention is bold but Darrell went there. I’d have probably gone with Justin Bibbs over Smith though. Both of those guys have stepped up their output in ACC play and Bibbs is the kind of player who rarely comes to Tech. Chuck is convinced he’s going to be good enough to leave early for the NBA. We’ll have to wait and see about that.
There’s no question that I should have put Montrezl Harrell higher on my ballot. I think I woke up in a bad mood and took it out on poor ‘Trez. Harrell has had a strong season, but it’s frustrating to see him shooting far too many outside jumpers and hanging around the 3-point line. Rick Pitino isn’t putting him in the best positions to be successful.
Glad I was able to make things interesting with my Tyus Jones choice Chuck! Anyways, I like this kid, one of the best freshman in this year’s class in my opinion. Even though I feel he will be a one-in-done type of player, he was a must add. Being a freshman guard on a fully-equipped Duke team, he is definitely making his rounds in the line up. Jones not only has the ability to shoot the ball but shoot well. He has great on-court vision, normally not what you see from a freshman, but this kid has some natural talent. If Coach K can keep him on board three more years I can see definite top ACC player potential.
Trevor Lacey, another player I was happy to see appear on the list. After T.J. Warren left NC State to pursue the NBA, Lacey has been the best option all season for the Wolfpack. Averaging just about 16 points per game and playing the most minutes for the Pack to date, I feel he is a little underrated to say the least. The Alabama transfer has been a godsend for this team; saving them from a disappointing loss to Georgia Tech by draining a three ball with no time to spare and shooting lights out against a highly ranked Duke team, two critical games that have kept NC State in a solid spot in conference play. Let me say this again a savior for Mark Gottfried and this team.
As I look back at my choices I feel like I could have pushed Jerian Grant higher on my list. Maybe take Meeks and move him down a couple notches, I must have been in a really good mood to give UNC top honors, not normally my style. I guess this is what happens when you work from midnight to 9 a.m. in the morning your judgment gets a little smudged. None the less I think overall our first team is solid, well put together and honestly a tough act to follow.
It’s hard not to envision this being a three horse race down the stretch for ACC POTY. With the play of Jerian Grant, Rakeem Christmas, and Jahlil Okafor, it’s difficult to see any other player sneaking in and getting serious consideration. Justin Anderson is the dark horse to make noise late in this race, but with UVA being such a balanced attack, it is hard to imagine Anderson having to singlehandedly carry the Cavaliers and force his hand in the player of the year race.
The one interesting element to watch in the closing weeks of conference play, is whether or not Rakeem Christmas loses his edge for Syracuse. The Orange announced this week that they will not participate in postseason play due to an ongoing NCAA investigation. Although the team has nothing left to play for this year, the hope is that Christmas will continue to make strides in his game on both ends of the floor, as he looks like a potential NBA lottery pick, and also an ACC Player of the Year.
I think Mike makes an excellent point about Rakeem Christmas’s motivation down the stretch. His play is certainly something to keep an eye on. As for the rest of the rankings, I think each of us would like a second crack at compiling our list, (i.e. my complete exclusion of BC’s Oliver Hanlan) and I look forward to seeing the changes on our end of season list. I admit Adam Smith of VT was a bit of a reach…and by bit of a reach, I mean the wingspan of Andre the Giant. I like players that are willing to take the big shot, make or miss. A lot of players shy away from that sort of thing. In a span of 2 days, Smith took a 27-foot jumper to try and force overtime against UVA. He missed the shot by less than an inch, hitting front iron. Two days later, he had an almost identical shot against Pitt and had a Steph Curry swish. Either way, its just an honorable mention worth half a point, and as Flo from Progressive says, “Sprinkles are for winners”.
That same mindset came into play with my choice for Justin Anderson as POTY. He has come up massive in every game I’ve watched this year, including in the same UVA-VT game referenced above when he completely took the game over and nailed a couple of clutch man-sized 3-pointers. His contributions go far beyond what you see on a stat sheet, and I could also go with the cop out of “I chose the best player on the best team in the conference”. At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with Anderson, Christmas, Okafor, or Grant…And speaking of man-sized shots… Grant hit a couple of candidates for shot of the year: